11/30/2023, 12.53
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Flores, indigenous people protesting against geothermal power plant attacked

by Mathias Hariyadi

The peaceful opposition of local communities on the island of Flores in Indonesia against the government project that is expropriating several native lands. The latest demonstration ended with a clash with security agents who violently removed the demonstrators

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - On Saturday 25 November, numerous indigenous communities organized a new protest demonstration against the geothermal power plant of the public energy company PLN which is taking shape on the slopes of Poco Leok, a volcano in the western part of the island of Flores, Indonesia.

Their protest took place in the area of the mining project and was suddenly violently opposed by security personnel who attacked several peaceful demonstrators to secure the area. “Our land has nourished our daily lives.

We are cultivating these lands and we have no intention of selling our soil,” read a protester's banner. Among the issues dearest to the protesters is the request to the head of the Manggarai district to revoke the permit for mining in the Poco Leok area which according to them was granted illegally.

This case is one of many that are increasingly happening across Indonesia where indigenous people are forced to uproot themselves from their lands due to natural resource extraction projects. Two different interests in this case are clashing in the shadow of the Poco Leok volcano, on the one hand the inhabitants who have lived here for generations and who have expressed their concerns and objections against the PLN extraction project. On the other hand, the public company that talks about a "prestigious national energy project" for which it has already raised huge funds.

Already last August, around a hundred indigenous people organized a protest demonstration, supported by at least 10 gendang (local tribal groups) on the island: Gendang Tere, Gendang Lungar, Gendang Rebak, Gendang Cako, Gendang Jong, Gendang Nderu, Gendang Mori , Gendang Mocok, Gendang Mucu and Gendang Racang.

Several hundred gathered near the cathedral of the diocese of Ruteng, and all the demonstrators wore their traditional clothes, showing their marked primordial identity and the bond that unites them to the land and to each other, even in their protest against the government project .

“We don't want our next generation to have no source of life and no land to call home,” the protesters added. These indigenous people accuse the Manggarai district administration of having illegally granted the land. An accusation that has always been rejected by the local administration.

In a statement, at least 11 human rights groups expressed their concern about the violent gestures carried out by the plant's security personnel during last Saturday's peaceful protest by the inhabitants of Poco Leok. Among those who signed the press release there are two Catholic religious groups active in the defense of human rights: Peace and Integrity of Creation of the Words and Justice and Peace of the Order of Friars Minor.

These realities argue that the presence of the influx of security personnel in the area indicates that behind the appropriation of the lands there is a 'pressure' implemented with force from above and against the local populations: "Under the mask of a national strategic energy project, such a move represents a serious abuse of the inhabitants of Poco Leok and the refusal to let them express their opinion. This is also a denial of Regulation no. 12 of 2005 on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights".

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